Director of Programs
Letters to the Editor (LTE) are letters submitted and published (although not all letters get published) in the editorial section of your local newspaper. Often when supporters of Women’s Voices for the Earth ask me how to get involved I recommend they submit an LTE. It’s a quick, relatively easy way to raise your voice.
Here’s why LTEs are important:
- Editorial pages are widely read and LTEs help to raise the visibility of an issue you care about.
- Even if your letter doesn’t get published it helps guide newspaper editors to pay attention and report on a topic.
- Policy makers (congressional staffers and state legislators) read LTEs as a way to keep track of public opinion.
Most newspapers accept LTEs online which is the quickest and easiest way to submit your LTE. Go to your newspapers’ home page and look for directions on how to submit an LTE. Sometime instructions are posted on the “contact us” link or directly on the editorial page (also called the opinion page). You can also type “submit an LTE” in the website’s search box.
Don’t feel overwhelmed about the idea of writing an LTE. You don’t have to be a great writer to get yours published and the following tips will help get you started.
Tips for writing an LTE:
- Short and sweet is best. In fact, most newspapers require a word count of 200 words or less.
- In the first paragraph clearly state what issue/problem you are addressing and what the solution is
- Write something personal—have you been personally impacted? How? This will help you connect your message with readers and your target.
- Refer to the legislator or the corporation you are trying to influence by name
- If your LTE gets published send the link to the legislator or corporation you are targeting in your LTE.
Here’s an example of an LTE:
I am writing in support of California bill SB 574. Studies show that the chemicals used to make up fragrances have been linked to linked to cancer, hormone disruption, reproductive harm and respiratory toxicity. This is unacceptable. But what’s worse, it is unbelievable that companies are not required to disclose the ingredients that go into making up the scents in their products.
People have a fundamental right to know what ingredients they are being exposed to, whether it is in the home, in the workplace, or public spaces. Knowing what ingredients are used in products is the first necessary step on the path to eliminating the use of harmful ingredients. After all, if we don’t know what we are being exposed to, how can we effectively advocate for safer chemicals?
It’s time to put an end to toxic fragrance secrets! State bill SB 574 — the Cosmetic Fragrance and Flavor Ingredient Right to Know Act — requires companies to publicly disclose toxic fragrance ingredients through the California Safe Cosmetics Database. If the bill passes, it would be the first such law to take effect in the nation.
I call on California legislatures to lead the nation in this important public health legislation, support my right to know, and vote YES on SB 574.
Now that you have all you need to know to get started on YOUR LTE, search for your local paper online and start writing!